The Edwardian Era first came to my attention with the movie Titanic. I swooned over the graces, got misty-eyed at the manners, and nearly fainted from the fashion. Hats, gloves, and parasols oh my! It wasn’t until the juggernaut of Downton Abbey did the sheer beauty of it bowl me off my feet. When season two crashed into the Great War I was practically salivating. If you know anything about me, it’s that I love a romance set amidst high drama and explosions. The ambulances, nurses, convalescent home, and then when Matthew Crawley walked in the door while Lady Mary sang ‘If You Were the Only Boy in the World’ I fell to my knees and screamed YES!!! That’s all it took. I rolled those elements around and around into different scenarios. Tossing this, rearranging this, possibilities here, a bit of research there and Voila! My story was born.
Once the very basic idea was there I dove straight into research which just happens to be my favorite part. I poured over every article and website dedicated to the Edwardian period, buried my nose into books about female ambulance drivers and nurses, watched videos on how to drive a Rolls Royce, and ogled dozens of pictures and photographs of dresses. One day my husband came home to find me tracing battle lines of the Somme. The man didn’t bat an eye, bless him.
This was an incredible time for women and social change. With the men gone, women had to pick up the slack by stepping into the workforces. And they loved! I wanted a heroine stuck in the mires of social class while running on a streak of adventure. A girl who doesn’t like routine and always looking for the next thrill around the corner. In other words, someone not like me who is very much a creature of habit. Despite her daunting personality, Gwyn was so much fun to write. Her zest for life was contagious and I found myself wanting to take a few more chances in life just like her.
William, on the other hand, was a breeze. I have no problem diving into the strong, silent, stubborn mind of a military man. His strong sense of patriotism, honor, and duty were admirable. Who doesn’t want a man like that?! My favorite part in a writing a hero like this is finding the chinks in his armor. Particularly when those weaknesses have long eyelashes and silky hair.
While I can’t pick a favorite part, I can say that my absolute favorite scenes are at the end when their love is thrown into the fire where they are charred and scarred. Their love is made all the sweeter because of it.
As I wrote this story, something about it felt incredibly special. I can’t explain it, but this one felt different. I fell in love with Gwyn and William and the sheer obstacles they had to overcome to be together, flaws and all. It was very difficult to spark a romance in the middle of a war, particularly on the battlefield. Women were not allowed anywhere near the front, not even nurses so I had to stretch the historical reality a bit. A completely normal trick for us historical writers J The best part of this whole experience, besides telling Gwyn and Will’s story, was learning more about the era itself. For some reason, this period in history has slipped through our fingers, at least here in the States. The Great War itself is barely known at all perhaps because we only entered in the last year or because the Lost Generation is almost completely lost for forever. Only a handful of those incredibly brave men are still alive today.